What is a personal representative, an executor, and an administrator?

In Georgia, “personal representative” is a general term used to refer to the court appointed legal representative whose duty is to distribute the decedent’s estate in accordance with the wishes of the decedent if there is a will or, if there is no will, in accordance with the intestacy laws (Rules of inheritance). More specifically, a personal representative who is acting under a will is referred to as an “executor.”  A personal representative who administers an intestate estate (i.e., an estate for which there is no valid will) is referred to as an “administrator.”

Why does a Will need to be probated?

The word “probate” means to “to prove.” A will is not operative under the law until it has been proven by the court to be a will. Probating the will gives the executor the legal authority to distribute the estate.

Is a Power of Attorney for an individual good after his/her death?

No, Power of Attorney loses its authority when the individual who executed the Power of Attorney dies.

Who decides who will be the administrator of an intestate estate?

The heirs of the intestate decedent may select who will serve as the administrator, provided their selection is unanimous. If the heirs cannot reach a unanimous agreement, the probate court will choose whoever will serve the best interests of the estate.

Must the administrator post bond?

To protect the estate during administration, an administrator is required to post bond and to file certain reports with the Probate Court unless relieved. The heirs may choose to authorize the court to waive the administrator's responsibility to post bond and file reports. The waiver must be unanimous, and the heirs must all sign and have notarized the Consent of Heirs to Waiver of Bond.

Why can’t the heirs sell property without coming before the probate court when a loved one dies?

Typically, heirs are not included on deeds and therefore need to complete the probate process in order to transfer title.

How much does it cost to file a petition to probate an estate?

The price varies for the different types of petitions, but typically range between $250-$400. You can email your completed petition to [email protected] to obtain the exact fee for your petition.